“Community” Earns an A+

Last week, I was sick. So I locked myself in my room with Community, a television show I had been avoiding, and didn’t come out until I had watched every episode.  I wasn’t avoiding the show for any reason other than I didn’t need another 22-minute distraction in my weekly routine.  In fact, I had heard very good things about it on Slate’s Culture Gabfest (here’s the link).

Community is in its third season as part of NBC’s Thursday night line-up, airing alongside heavy-hitters like The Office, Parks and Recreation and 30 Rock.  It has the highly coveted 8 pm timeslot that was once ruled by another ensemble-based hit, Friends.  In fact, the show has proven so successful for NBC that during both its first and second season the station ordered additional episodes beyond the originally planned 22.

The show revolves around a loveable band of misfits who unwittingly formed a study group at the fictional Greendale Community College.  Through numerous trials and hi-jinks, the group becomes friends.  Dan Harmon, Community’s creator, based the show around a study group he formed at Glendale Community College while trying to win back his then-girlfriend.  The cast features Joel McHale from The Soup, Chevy Chase from, well, being Chevy Chase and Yvette Nicole Brown who attended the University of Akron, to name a few.

However, the appeal of the show doesn’t come from big-named stars, but from the offbeat and, sometimes, offensive humor.  Community is often meta, acknowledging its own use of familiar onscreen clichés, usually through the character of Abed (played by Danny Pudi) whose brain contains more information about movies than IMDB.

In an interview in Venus Zine’s Fall 2010 Issue Gillian Jacobs, who plays the wannabe rebel Britta, said, “there’s an absurdity to the show.  We exist in a world in which anything can happen week to week, and that pushes me in so many ways.”  At Greendale, anything does happen: a Halloween party where the student body turns into zombies, a stop-action animated Christmas special, a western-style paintball fight that turns the school upside down– and that’s just a short list.  In every episode the show plays with our collective associations.

My one concern for new viewers is that the show is so self-referential to past episodes that it may be hard to join somewhere in the middle.  For example, at the beginning of this season, the Dean finds out a monkey, named Annie’s Boobs, is living in the vents of the school.  If you’ve seen past episodes, you know the monkey was once a pet of Troy (played by Donald Glover), was released by evil Abed and has been living in the vents, stealing things from the study group ever since.  If you haven’t, you may not understand the monkey.

I, personally, love that the show offers callbacks for fans. Often times, something will happen in a show and it will have no bearing on future episodes (i.e. the entire last season of Dexter.)

If you have the time, I recommend going back to watch the last two seasons before starting the third.  If not, watch the show any way.  I’m sure it offers enough humor and pop culture references for you to want to become a Greendale Human Being (the “ethnically neutral” school mascot.)

-Benjamin Rexroad
Managing Artistic Director


  1. Community is one of my favorite shows. It is honest in its absurdity and the actors really transcend the limitations of an ensemble-cast situation comedy. With “Community” “Parks and Recreation” and “The Office” back-to-back-to-back, NBC has a hell of a Thursday night line-up. (I promise I AM NOT an NBC marketing exec).

    To wet the whistle of anybody catching up on previous seasons, John Goodman has a guest star role in Season 3 as vice dean of Greendale’s Air Conditioning Repair School. He’s been in two episodes thus far and has been spectacular.

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